Successful digital projector install means 99W Drive-In will open in spring

With just a little cleaning remaining, the 99W Drive-In is ready for its new digital debut. Owner Brian Francis said construction installing the digital projector finished Jan. 31 after three days of work.

“Now it’s a matter of me training myself how to use it properly,” he said.

The new projector was installed as a part of Honda’s Project Drive-In, where in September the drive-in was one of five selected to receive a digital projector system worth more than $80,000.

Francis said the construction went fairly smoothly, in part because he had the booth ready for the technicians.

“I think our projector booth was more prepared than the technicians had seen,” he said. “It takes about 24 hours to do the digital booth install from the ground up for someone that doesn’t have it, but because I had a couple of remodelers in there put in a new floor and it was electrically ready for technician, it was able to stay on schedule.”by: GARY ALLEN - New era - After winning Honda's Project Drive-In, 99W Drive-In received a new digital projector, necessary to continue showing new films. The new projector was installed last week. Now theater owner Brian Francis said he just needs to learn how to use it.

Francis said he kept one of his two 35mm projectors, and created a side-by-side booth to house both. Doing so meant the projector was able to stay in the spot it has been since 1963.

“I’m keeping that around for an awful lot of people who miss the intermission snack break thing,” he said, explaining that the theater shows old, short flicks on film between movies. “Later on I might make the transition to digital if I decide I want to do that.”

He added that the new projector had its first screen test last week.

“I’ve even had some people saying, ‘Is something going on at drive-in?’ because they were getting gas at Fred Meyer and saw the lights,” Francis said.

Lights are now visible because the new screen projects at 10 foot-lamberts, compared to the four lamberts the film projector outputs.

“It’s very bright and very nice,” he said. “It has more resolution as well. I will no longer be focusing with the lens, because it’s set at a certain optimum focus position and will stay that way.”

As for learning how to use the projector, Francis said it should come fairly quickly.

“If I was always making iTunes playlists I’d get it even quicker,” he said. “I guess having computer skills like that is all you need to know. You just click and drag files then hit the start button.”

Depending on the weather, he said the drive-In will open in March or April.

“No way will it be later than mid-April, I’d be losing too many weeks,” Francis said. “We found out even if it’s still cold and rainy it’s worth it to be open in April.”

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